It feels like the Islanders are participants in the same song and dance every year. They’re initially linked to a major trade or free agent target — like Alex DeBrincat — only to see them shipped or signed elsewhere.
After reports emerged that the Islanders had been in talks with the Ottawa Senators for the star winger about a potential deal that could have sent veteran center Jean-Gabriel Pageau back to the Canadian capital, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman threw water on the Islanders’ fire.
Appearing on NHL Network, Friedman disclosed that DeBrincat wants to play for the Detroit Red Wings and that the two teams are working on getting something done.
The 25-year-old is a Michigan native having grown up in Farmington Hills.
While the news certainly doesn’t bode well for the Islanders, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are out of the sweepstakes entirely as of yet. DeBrincat is a restricted free agent and will be in need of a new contract wherever he goes whether that comes in the form of a sign-and-trade or not.
Granted, Ottawa and general manager Pierre Dorion will be looking to pull off that sign-and-trade maneuver to maximize their return on the trade market.
But Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported that the Red Wings “haven’t been willing to go long-term with DeBrincat up to this point, but perhaps both sides are willing to compromise to see if there’s a middle ground that would make a trade with the Senators work.”
Whether or not that’s a leverage play obviously remains to be seen if there is another party potentially offering the promise of a long-term deal.
DeBrincat is amongst the hottest commodities on the trade market this summer given his track record as a high-ceiling goal scorer. He’s already eclipsed the 40-goal mark twice in his young career.
His presence would be invaluable for an Islanders team that is looking to create a bona fide top-scoring line that appears to be two-thirds complete. Bo Horvat was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks at the trade deadline and signed an eight-year pact to become the franchise’s No. 1 center of the future while moving star playmaker Mathew Barzal to the right wing.
That leaves the left-wing spot very much a question mark for now with in-house options like Anders Lee or potentially Oliver Wahlstrom not providing nearly as dramatic a punch as a talent like DeBrincat would.